Crystal Palace only have themselves to blame for home defeat vs. Watford
Maybe the tide hasn't turned after all. Last week's 1-1 draw at Swansea was Palace's first point of 2016 after five straight defeats, but that familiar feeling was back after a disappointing 2-1 home defeat to Watford. The game followed a similar pattern to that draw in South Wales with the Eagles struggling in the first half before finding some sort of rhythm after the break. But while they held on for a point at the Liberty Stadium, this time they were caught out by a late Troy Deeney winner.
Alan Pardew's men could quite conceivably moan about the officials again, if they chose to. Referee Bobby Madley awarded a penalty for Mile Jedinak holding Deeney in the box, the sort of challenge that goes unpunished hundreds of times a season. Deeney converted from the spot to put the Hornets one up.
There were also questions as to whether the ball crossed the goal line for the corner that led to the Hornets' winner. But that shouldn't mask a flat performance on another infuriating day where left-back Pape Souare let the frustration of the afternoon manifest as a silly, reckless challenge on Valon Behrami that resulted in a deserved straight red card.
Emmanuel Adebayor did manage to open his account with a well-taken header before half-time -- remarkably, the first time a Palace striker has scored from open play this season -- and Wilfried Zaha was again a threat, but too many other players had days to forget.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Wayne Hennessey, 6 -- Made a couple of good saves and couldn't do anything with either goal but let himself down with some erratic throwing. He put Souare in trouble right at the death although that doesn't excuse the left-back's rash tackle for the sending-off.
DF Joel Ward, 5 -- Didn't cover himself in glory after drifting into the middle to allow Deeney to smash in the winner unmarked. Had previously left Nathan Ake free in the box for a chance that Hennessey saved. Could have made up for it with a free header right at the death but couldn't get it on target.
DF Damien Delaney, 7 -- Kept Deeney's previously free-scoring strike partner Odion Ighalo quiet and probably didn't deserve to be on the losing side.
DF Scott Dann, 6 -- Some uncharacteristically poor passes from Palace's joint top goal scorer this season. A day to forget for the usually imperious centre-back.
DF Pape Souare, 5 -- A very out-of-sorts performance that featured some nervous clearances, questionable positioning and was compounded with a frustrated kick-out at the end that resulted in a late red card.
MF Yohan Cabaye, 6 -- Not the Cabaye that Palace fans were seeing dominate games in the first half of the season. Way too many misplaced passes for a player of his undoubted quality, although he was unlucky not to score with a good volley that struck the post.
MF Mile Jedinak, 5 -- Gave away a penalty for Watford's opener for a grab on Deeney and struggled thereafter. Too many missed passes.
MF Jordon Mutch, 6 -- Showed some nice touches and looked to link up with Adebayor and Wickham, but aside from one shot from distance that was beaten away by Heurelho Gomes, he was unable to control the game.
MF Wilfried Zaha, 7 -- Palace's best player again. He caused Watford problems even after he was switched from right wing to the left. Did well to carve out a chance and square to Adebayor, whose poked effort was saved well by Gomes.
FW Connor Wickham, 6 -- Strangely started out wide left but looked more comfortable when moved central midway through the first half. Crossed well for Adebayor's goal but was for some reason hooked at half-time.
FW Emmanuel Adebayor, 7 -- Opened his Palace account with a superb-looping header and was unlucky not to add to it in the second half when Gomes saved his toe-poke effort. Looks to be settling well up front for the Eagles.
MF Chung Yong-lee, 6 -- Introduced at half-time for Wickham, but apart from some nice touches, he couldn't impose himself on the game.
FW Fraizer Campbell, NR -- A replacement for Mutch midway through the second half but apart from lots of running around, the forward had zero impact.